Lyons | KUNC


Brennan Linsley / The Associated Press

When the flood waters in 2013 subsided, tens of thousands of evacuees along Colorado's Front Range returned to see what happened to their homes. One of them was Amanda Anderson.

"All of it was just mud," Anderson said. "It was so dark in there because of the mud. It was like walking into a horror movie because it used to be so bright."

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Five years ago flood waters caused immense damage along Colorado’s northern Front Range and foothills, killing nine people, upending the lives of thousands of others. And just as the raging water left a lasting imprint in the minds of those who lived through it, it did the same to the land itself.

During four days of rain, and weeks of receding, rivers altered course, reservoirs filled with sediment, and soil slipped down hillslopes, ending up as sand bars and log jams downstream. The change was so abrupt and sudden maps had to be redrawn.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

Adam Lefkoff still remembers as a child going with his father, an attorney, to visit a client at home.

"He had three pinball machines in his house," Adam said. "And that - as a 5-year-old living in Atlanta - that just blew my mind. 'Oh my goodness, you can have pinball machines in your house?'"

The obsession had begun.

Grace Hood

Almost a year and a half after flooding wiped away scores of homes in Lyons and Jamestown, the small towns continue to rebuild. In 2015, the communities will tackle some of the most difficult aspects of bringing residents back – replacing either the lost structures or finding new parcels of land.

Colorado United / Twitter

While construction and recovery efforts continue a year after Colorado’s epic 2013 flood, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Recovery Office have released a report analyzing the progress made and lessons learned over everything from housing and infrastructure to environmental restoration efforts.

Andrew Beckham

Marking a year post-flood in Colorado, The Dairy Center for the Arts is exhibiting 33 black-and-white and color photographs captured by photographers who live and work on the Front Range. In FLOOD: A Thousand Year Event, unmitigated contrasts are presented: Destruction and rebirth; restoration after loss; calamity and, oddly, the center's Curator of Visual Art and Education, Mary Horrocks notes, beauty.

Grace Hood / KUNC

One of the hardest hit areas following the 2013 flood was the small 2,000-person town of Lyons. Key pieces of the town's infrastructure like sewer, water and gas lines were severely damaged. Fast forward a year, the town is working off a list of 87 projects ranging from park and river bank repair to bridge rebuilding.

Another challenge is replacing housing lost to the flood.

3 Young Artists We Can’t Wait For At Folks Fest

Aug 14, 2014
Jim Hill / KUNC

Folk music is all about telling stories, evoking emotion and preserving culture for posterity. At the 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival a diverse mix of new and old will take over the beautiful grounds in Lyons August 15 to 17.

Randy Newman, Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, John Fullbright and Randy Newman will add a classic folks touch, but we’re most excited about three of the youngest musicians at this years festival.

Colorado Ag Braces For A Post-Flood Irrigation Season

Mar 13, 2014
Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

When September’s flood waters came down the Front Range foothills, it unleashed tremendous pressure on an aging irrigation infrastructure, some of which dated back to the late 1800s. As the weather warms, it’ll be a race to mend the damaged or destroyed ditches before the snow starts to melt.

Grace Hood / KUNC

It’s been six months since heavy rain flooded 24 Colorado counties, damaging businesses, homes, roads and ending 10 lives. An estimated 28,000 residents were impacted and nearly 1,000 businesses were damaged or destroyed.

When it comes to business, the small towns of Lyons and Estes Park have faced a particularly steep road to recovery.